Ben's Sports Take: <24 hours until Opening Day


Here are the final seven things that need to go right for Atlanta in 2011 if the Braves have any hopes of winning another World Series title.

7. Solidify the fifth starter position
—Top prospect Mike Minor and surprise stud Brandon "Life's A" Beachy spent the duration of Spring Training in a heated battle for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation. Despite posting a sub-1.00 ERA during the spring, it was announced last week that Minor would begin the season in Gwinnett as Beachy was subsequently anointed as the fifth and final starter. The Braves' 1-4 starters are one of the best units in baseball, but solidifying the fifth spot in the rotation could make it the best—yep, that includes the Phillies.

6. How much can you bench?
—With the loss of All-Star utility man Omar Infante, Atlanta's lineup flexibility and pinch-hitting prowess took a noticeable hit. The Braves re-signed Eric Hinske and have Brooks Conrad back, but they'll need more than two options to turn to in the eighth and ninth innings if they want to build off of last year's dramatic late-inning success.

5. Jurrjens needs to be effective, healthy
—Jair Jurrjens struggled to stay on the field in 2010 and even when he did make his scheduled starts, he struggled even more—posting a 4.64 ERA in just 116.1 innings of work. Jurrjens left his final Spring Training outing last week with an apparent rib cage injury and has had his first scheduled start of the regular season pushed back to April 6. The Braves not only need Jurrjens to remain healthy in 2011, but they need him to pitch like he did in 2009 when he pitched 215 innings and received a vote for the Cy Young Award.

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Friday June 3, 2011 01:32 pm EDT

  • http://clatl.com/atlanta/ImageArchives?by=1223504
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Friday May 27, 2011 12:01 pm EDT

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Friday May 20, 2011 12:10 pm EDT


  • Wikimedia Commons
  • This pretty much sums up the past 12 years of Thrashers hockey

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Friday May 13, 2011 12:00 pm EDT

  • Joeff Davis

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